Dawn to Dusk at a Nazi-built Chemical Plant


Yesterday I mentioned that I worked at a Nazi-built facility for a day.  Apparently a couple of people thought I was just being a dick and referring to Germans in general as Nazis.  I wasn’t, not this time anyway.  The plant I worked at yesterday was straight up built and developed as chemical and rubber supplier for the Axis powers during World War II and as such, it got the shit bombed out of it during the Allied offensive.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page about the city, and the “Chemiepark” at which I had the pleasure of working.  Here’s a selection or two from said article:

Foundation of the “Chemiepark Marl”

The “Chemical Park Marl” goes back to the foundation of the “Chemical Factories Hüls” in 1938. At the time of the Third Reich the factories produced synthetic rubber (called “Buna”) for tires. Therefore a lot of forced labourers were used. After the Second World War the factories produced plastics, resources for cleaning agents and again “Buna”. In 1985 the company was merged with the Degussa AG and later in 2007 with the Evonik industries an is now called “Chemical Park Marl.”  The infrastructure of the park was taken over by the “infracor” company.

Second World War

The Kristallnacht 1938 led to the persecution of the Jewish inhabitants, who have resided in Marl since 1910. They worked mostly in the clothing trade or sold furniture. Several people were injured, their shops burned down and all 29 Jewish inhabitants had to leave the town. Most of them were deported to Riga and murdered. These incidents were documented by the German artist Gunter Demnig and his project “Stolpersteine” (stumbling blocks).

Between 1939 and 1945 many foreign forced workers worked in companies and private households. Throughout the war especially the “Buna” factories were target of several allied air raids. Although the civilian areas of the town were relatively near to the factories civilian demolition was kept to a limit. On the 31st March 1945 the American 8th Armored Division occupied the town.

Chemiepark Marl

One of the largest integrated chemical production sites in Germany, the “Chemical Park Marl” is based in Marl.[9] It was founded as the Chemische Werke Hüls GmbH in 1938.

The Hüls synthetic rubber plant was a bombing target of the Oil Campaign of World War II. The second largest producer of synthetic rubber (17% of Axis supply), the plant was 240 miles closer to Allied bomber bases than the larger synthetic rubber plant at Schkopau. On June 22, 1943, the sole Eighth Air Force operation against Nazi Germany synthetic-rubber production during the first phase of the Combined Bomber Offensive opened “a new chapter in aerial warfare” (RAF Fighter Commander Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory) with a bombing that destroying 6,200 of 8,380 built-up acres of “the city”.[10]

It was pretty wild to stroll through the joint.  It has long since become a totally legit power plant, among other things.  Some of the bombing damage the place incurred was clearly visibly in the brick structures.  About half of the complex was made up of old, dilapidated and vacant brick buildings that had clearly been abandoned decades ago.  The other half is a state-of-the art chemical processing and fabrication facility.  The steam boiler I worked on was little more than an afterthought given the scope of this place.  The complex is massive, and photography is strictly verboten.  I couldn’t get a lot of the pictures I wanted to take, and I didn’t want to risk bringing my actual camera in, but hey, it’s not like they were gonna send the S.S. after me, so I snuck a cell-phone picture here and there.  Have a look….

Sunrise from the front gate. It took forever to gain access to the place. They had us inventory pretty much everything in the car, including grabbing the serial numbers off our laptops.

The long hike from the car to our boiler.

The view from one side of our boiler.

The view looking off the other side of the boiler. Place was enormous.

One of the bombed out buildings on the abandoned side of the facility. I would've loved to poke around down there.

More blown up buildings.

And then you can see the modern side on the left of all them pipes.

Then just the modern side. Looks just like any oil refinery or chemical plant in the states. Just kinda crazy that not 100 yards away are a bunch of buildings that were likely built by forced labor.

Sunset.

On our way out of the plant. Unfortunately they still made me work 12 hours, and even more unfortunatelier it was 10 degrees out. Such a cold day....

That’s all from the Chemiepark.  Pictures of the castle we visited and the little town in which we resided for a couple of brief nights upcoming.  Prost.

-B. Littleton

3 Comments

Filed under The Sights, The Sights of Europe, The Work

3 responses to “Dawn to Dusk at a Nazi-built Chemical Plant

  1. I walked that boiler –with pneumonia!

  2. Brenda Tracy

    A very cold walk through history! Looks austere. The under belly of what it takes to have our modern life style and creature comforts.

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